Category Archives: Five Stars

Seven Days in Lebanon

Seven Days in Lebanon by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.

The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.

The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.

There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.

Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ

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The Money Trail

The Money Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 5) by [Fields, J.C.]

The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.

It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.

Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.

Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ

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The Dark Age Chronicles

This is such an easy book to get lost in! I had so much fun reading this, I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I have found a new love for these fantasy type books that create an incredible world that you can’t help but feel like you are a part of. The fact that this book had so many mythical components as well as incredible characters and a fantastic story line just makes it even more intriguing.

If you are looking for a book that speaks to you, one that makes you feel like you are a part of something, then this book is definitely one you are going to want to pick up. When Eve realizes that she is the light in the dark days, after being abused and treated like a servant all of her life, it’s incredible. It was like watching an abused dog be taken in by a loving family, the way that the author describes the things that happen in this world, especially to Eve, it’s unbelievable, but you don’t want to put the book down because you are rooting for Eve to defeat evil.

There are two other books in this series that I cannot wait to get my hands on, there are just so many elements of this series that I wish it were a movie, or television show. You watch this story unfold in front of your eyes, and it’s like you’re no longer reading, you’re actually there, taking part in the action yourself. That’s how you know you found an incredible book, when you no longer feel as if you’re sitting on your couch but rather in the throes of action.

I definitely recommend this book to people who want some adventure, mystery and thrill in their stories. Eve is an incredible character, who doesn’t take any backtalk from anyone and is willing to put her life on the line for the good of mankind. Even though she is beaten down, and has been her entire life, she rises again and again to defeat the evil that has come to try and steal the life out of everyone around her. I cannot wait for you to read this book and love it as much as I did.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: 1980483159

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The Tribulations of August Barton

The Tribulations of August Barton by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]

The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a  nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.

This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real  problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1

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“Mama Sou”: Metamorphosis of a Mother

MAMA SOU is the true story of a young mother who gets her son taken away. This book is pure love and emotion and nearly had me in tears several times. As the story unfolds, you see how much love Maria has for her son, and how she will do anything to get him back. She is strong, independent, and ready to fight for what is hers. Aside from the incredible story that is being told in these pages, the writing is superb and beautifully delivers a fully realized vision of the characters and the places they inhabit. It is incredible the lengths that people go to for their family, and the fact that this is someone’s real story is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Whether you are a parent or not, you will feel the love that went into writing this story, and the emotions between the people in the story. The author, the mother herself, pours her heart into every chapter. I’ve read some books like this one, where a young mother struggles to gain her family back, but there is something special about Maria’s story. Maybe it’s the year that it happened, which was some 40 years ago, when these types of things weren’t really talked about, or maybe it’s because it happened in Greece. Either way, it holds a special place in my heart, and I will not forget this story any time soon.

As someone who has suffered from depression most of my life, seeing how Maria handled her depression was inspirational. That fact that she was able to fight for what she so desperately needed, all while dealing with mental illness, was incredible. I fully enjoyed this book, I think that whether you have kids or not, you will find some special meaning within these pages. The story is sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, but definitely full of lessons to learn for everyone that reads it. I only wish that we could learn more about Maria and her story, and more about her son.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0793VJFFG

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Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir

Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir by [Pomerantz, Diane]

I was truly touched by this memoir by Diane Pomerantz.  Her honesty and candor, as well as her shard recollection of her life’s experiences is truly inspiring and, as a person interested in human relationships, I found this book speaking to my soul. Diane Pomerantz writes as if in conversation. Perhaps this comes from her decades of work as a child psychologist. The writing has a conversational flow and is emotional without being overly flowery or expressive. She states later in the book that writing is very therapeutic for her and this is evident to the reader.

This is a memoir about a life full of challenging experiences to which many people can relate but also moments that are so unique to her story. The author takes us through her years as a married person and into her later years and up to the present. We experience her meeting her husband.  He is a physician and she is a child psychologist. They build a life together, including many issues with fertility and adoption. We experience their early years of marriage, including intense difficulties with fertility and adoption. There are many heartbreaking incidents like when the young couple adopts a baby, names him, and brings him home only to find out that the birth mother has changed her mind. It is inspiring how the author faces these challenges, she is rocked to the core but also finds a way to move forward. It’s beautiful how she got both of her children. I loved this part of the story. It made me laugh when she said her daughter liked her new brother for the first few weeks but was then ready to send him back! My son said similar things about his baby brother in the beginning, so this made me smile.

As the years go on, we watch her husband’s true personality come to forefront. It is truly disturbing to watch this unfold. She sees certain things in the beginning that are red flags but continues raising her children with him and even working together. There is a story about how she and Charles co-treat a young woman for anxiety and Pomerantz is alarmed by his dismissive response to the patient. Through the author’s struggles with illness she discovers more and more truths about her husband. It was alarming to read the breakdown of their partnership and his actions and state of mind. Her descriptions were so alarming at times, yet I believed every detail.

There is a lot of difficulty, trauma, and heartbreak in this book, but it all comes around to a positive ending and left me feeling like I was more aware in my own marriage and relationships. I like that she is able to move forward without anger, even though she doesn’t have to forgive. I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was so comfortable and easy to read. The authors candor about her life are refreshing in a world where people often only want to show the good.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B07414L8B6

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Epiphany’s Gift

Epiphany's Gift

Epiphany’s Gift

Epiphany has a gift she doesn’t necessarily want, tries to hide, and can’t return. When you think about it, is that even a gift? When a young Epiphany reveals her gift to her parents, her father isn’t so supportive and urges her to keep it hidden. What could be beneficial to everyone around her and, ultimately, save lives winds up being a thorn in her side for most of her young life. As an adult with a son and granddaughter of her own, Epiphany becomes much less reluctant and refuses to hide the truth any longer. She knows now what she didn’t know as a child, the visions she experiences are much more than a gift.

Epiphany’s Gift, by Mallory O’Connor, takes readers on a journey of the mind as Epiphany learns to rein in her exceptional gift of visions. Epiphany is a well-drawn character with many facets to her life. She is a doting grandmother and loving mother who, like all mothers, questions her own decisions and how they impact her family. She is likable and gives readers someone to root for from the first vivid descriptions of her visions.

O’Connor masters the art of the eerie character with the Old Man. It isn’t often that a book gives me chills, but I have to admit that the initial encounter between Epiphany and the Old Man provides one of those moments. O’Connor simultaneously succeeds in giving readers an aha moment while showing the main character to be a strong one from a very early age. In addition, the incorporation of the Old Man into Epiphany’s adult dilemma is nothing short of brilliant.

Epiphany’s visions and feelings come and go in the most unique way. Reading about her premonitions is equivalent to watching them on-screen. Without giving away too much, I can say that O’Connor makes each of Epiphany’s “encounters” amazingly clear to readers. As the book plays out as a mystery, Epiphany uses these encounters to lead her to a resolution–truly unique and engaging.

One of my favorite aspects of O’Connor’s work is the writing style itself. O’Connor’s writing is clean, concise, and descriptive without being overly flowery. Her character descriptions are wonderfully memorable. Susan, Epiphany’s mother, is one of the standouts for me. She is a spry and lively woman in her 90s–I can see her in my mind’s eye now.

Readers who enjoy mysteries but appreciate a blend of nonfiction will find O’Connor’s work appealing. O’Connor proves herself to be powerful as a writer of suspense. There exists a certain amount of the old detective novels within Epiphany’s Gift, and I can see any fan of that genre becoming enamored with Epiphany and her amazing gift.

Coming Soon

Reflection: The Paul Mann Story

Reflection: The Paul Mann Story by Titan Frey is an amazing work of fiction interweaving alternative history within it. Paul Mann is 104-years-old and in a nursing home. Every day he writes in his journal about his life and has a sack of journals that tells the story of his lifetime. He is reunited with his son and grandson in this book, where Paul tells his story through his journals. An intimate family relationship is born between grandson and grandfather where we see the hectic, heartbreaking, and even heartwarming life Paul Mann has led while also following his current adventures.

I love this book. It was intriguing and hard to put down. At first, I did not like many of the characters, but then I saw, as their story developed, that they were shaped by their pasts. The main characters are well-developed in that sense, and we get to know these characters as if they were complex, real-life people. It truly felt as if I was witnessing these events pass and getting to know them. I would have liked to understand the side characters motivations more, though, as they did seem cruel without real reason. Though sometimes, that is the harshness of the world, and this book’s theme seems to be how callous and brutal the world can be, but that love is still important.

The main aspect of this book was learning about Paul through the eyes of his past in the form of a journal, and it was done so well. I love how the journals truly seemed to be written by Paul Mann. It shows incredibly strong character development. I liked the idea of learning about someone through journals; it put me in the mindset of Marlin, the grandson, where I felt like Paul was my grandfather and I got to connect with him in that way. Frey does a marvelous at humanizing her character and allowing you to grow attached to them.

This book is an emotional roller-coaster with lots of twists and turns. Terrible things happen, but you get to see the love Paul has for his family, and that beauty shines through. The portrayal of the nursing home struck a chord with me and made it relatable; at least to me. It made me feel for the residents, especially Paul. In a way, this book made me feel more connected with my own grandmother.

I highly recommend this book. It puts you in the head of an older person by relaying their life experiences. It also shows how sometimes you do not really know a person or how they came to be who they are until you take the time to listen, or read in this case. The book also illustrates the importance of life and spending time with loved ones. In addition to valuable lessons, the book is also intriguing, thrilling, and mysterious. Marlin and his grandson truly have a special bond.

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07MTSFWJG

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Three Burning Red Runaway Brides

Three Burning Red Runaway Brides (The Water Kingdom Book 3) by [Breaux, Kevin James]

Sabrina London is now Queen of the Water Fairies. The problem is she doesn’t really want to be, and she is expected to marry Lord Raion of the Tainted. Sabrina and Dunyasha, the ancient vampire, devise a plan to solve Sabrina’s problems and free her from marrying Lord Raion. They recruit Amber, a Fire Fairy, to become Sabrina’s double. Through extensive surgeries and training Amber takes on the persona of Sabrina and is able to fool most people into believing she is in fact Sabrina London. Her mission is first to dispel of the people that could tell she was not in fact Sabrina, three tests to make sure she would be able to fool Lord Raion. Through these tests and missions, Amber and Dunyasha’s true motives come out. They are not looking out for Sabrina, they are not really on her side, what motivates these otherworldly beings? Who will survive in the end as each race clashes and fights for dominance over all the others?

Kevin Breaux returns to his world of fairies, vampires, and other creatures. We learn more about who Dunyasha is, what her past is, and how she became the cursed undead. Characters such as Jackson and Cade return, well-loved characters from past novels that played integral parts of Sabrina’s development. Three Burning Red Runaway Brides is a complex novel with so many different plot lines all intertwining that you almost need to keep notes at times to keep up with who is on who’s side, what plots are being planned, and is there even a good guy or bad guy anywhere? The deeper you go into the novel the more complex each character gets, and you find things you love and hate about each of them. Learning how the water elements all interact in the water kingdom and move about is fascinating. Learning more about the traditions the water fairies have in place adds to the complex character that is Sabrina as you figure out how she became the person she is now. Amber, also known as Skipper, starts out like a spoiled brat you just want to dislike. As we learn more about her though, we find out she is much more cunning and determined than what she appears on the surface. She has glimpses of good intentions, but most are self-serving in the end. Sabrina while she tries to grow into the role of queen, you see her reverting back to the way she was in the first novel, her growth is less developed, and even regressing in this novel. She reminds me of the teen rebelling more so than Amber as the book continues.

Without giving away key plot elements, I can say the story of Dunyasha is one of my favorites, how she ended up one of the cursed undead, how she created her family, her history and her plans for the future. I can see this plot line continuing into another book as her story continues to unfold and fate of the vampires and their awakening continues.

Kevin James Breaux has a great talent for drawing the reader in with his detailed story lines, descriptive writing and unique plot twists. Each novel builds on the last but stands alone to tell a story unlike the past without feeling like you are rereading the last novel.

Pages: 357 | ASIN: B07MC57D12

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7 1/2 Habits To Help You Become More Humorous, Happier & Healthier

7 1/2 Habits To Help You Become More Humorous, Happier & Healthier by [Jacobson, David]

The first thing that caught my eye even before getting to the first chapter of the book was the dedication part. The author styled dedication as ‘deadication’ and I thought, wow, is this a typo? Reading on, the author explained that the misspelling was intentional because he was dedicating the book to every dead person he knew. I thought that that was cool, and sort of funny. Here I was getting ready to read a book that would make me more humorous, happier and healthier, and what do I find at the beginning? Some funny word. I immediately knew that I was in for a good read. David Jacobson also had a livication part; dedicating the book to all living people.

In chapter one, the author states that you should treat humor as a necessity, not a luxury. The author writes that you should make humor a priority in your life. I agree with him because, with humor, life stops being too serious. Humor will help you improve your attitude, physical and mental health. On using the self-effacing humor, the author writes that it is good because you will let others know your humor, and they will be comfortable knowing that you know they know.

Habit four was my most favorite of all. The habit reads “Use the power of humor to positively influence you and others.” I couldn’t agree more. It is evident that by bringing in humor even during tense situations people feel a little bit relaxed. By reading and adapting this habit, you will help those around you better their own well being. There is no harm in being a little funny with your friends around. Humor makes the environment more cheerful and more fun to be in. The sixth habit was a good one too; humorize – Combine humor with other aspects of your life.

I kept wondering why the author wrote about 7 and 1/2 habits. Why did he half it? Why not write about either 7 or 8 habits? The author explained that he wrote the half habit because you don’t need the entire habit for it to work. The half habit is also the most challenging to maintain. “Mastering your thoughts” is the last and half habit. It is not easy to master your thoughts. The good news is that if you manage to master them half the time, you’ll be doing twice as well.

Every book lover should read this book because the book is educational and amusing. I also recommend the book because it makes you view humor and life differently, and enables you to see the light side of things. The best part is that the book is a light read so you will finish reading it sooner than you realize.

Pages: 167 | ASIN: B07L23YS7C

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